Australian exhibits sculpture in Hanoi

Australian artist Nerine Martini opened an exhibition in Hanoi Friday displaying her sculpture based on a traditional boat from the central Vietnamese town of Hoi An.

The piece, named ‘Life Boat’, was created from an old wooden boat, known as ghe bau, which was used to carry goods like ceramics, bronze tools, fish sauce, pepper, herbs, and spices from Vietnam to neighboring countries hundreds of years ago.

The distinctive characteristics of a ghe bau are its gourd-shaped hull and an eye painted o­n its prow, which fishermen believe helps the boat and its passengers.

The sculpture comprises the solid frame of the wooden boat, eight wooden oars, coated with lacquer, stylishly made to look like the arms of the Goddess of Mercy who is supposed to have a 1,000 arms and eyes.

Martini said the special shape of the ghe bau as well as the unique Guanyin, the goddess, statue at the famous But Thap Pagoda in the northern Bac Ninh province gave her the inspiration to create the work.

But Thap, o­ne of the finest pagodas in the country’s north, is known as Vietnam’s first Buddhist center.

Through the work the sculptor reflects her view of the life of different peoples in Vietnam and particularly the relationship between them and water, both physically and spiritually.

The exhibit also tells about sea voyages and the bravery and love of the industrious Vietnamese.

Born in 1968 in Australia, Martini studied fine arts at Perth and Canberra before completing a post-graduate course o­n sculpture at the New South Wales University in 1997.

Her sculptural works were selected for the annual exhibition, Sculpture By the Sea, in Sydney in 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003. She also displayed her works at the Blake Prize Exhibition in Sydney last year.

Martini has shown keen interest in Vietnamese culture after her first visit to the country in 2004. She returned to Vietnam last December to create the Life Boat.

The exhibition at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology will end April 30.

Thanh Nien Newspaper